There’s a rapid movement on the part of colleges, even Ivies, dropping the optional writing portion of the ACT and SAT. Students who don’t like to write are often looking for outs when it comes to writing. The ACT and SAT calling their writing or essay portion of the test “optional”, often feels like it’s ripe for opting OUT of the dreaded essay.  So what’s one to do?

Those that STILL Require the ACT/SAT Essay

There are only 23, 22, 21, 20  (now) 19 colleges requiring the essay portion of the ACT/SAT. The schools who are still requiring that portion of the test tend to be more selective colleges. If you plan to apply to highly selective universities, we recommend you take the ACT and/or SAT optional writing test as students may not know where they are applying at the time of testing. It’s best to play it safe.

Recommend or Highly Recommend the Essay

Then there are those who “recommend” the essay portion but don’t require it. Students may feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when schools take this stance. We’re going to make it easy for you. Anytime a college recommends students do something as part of the applications process, JUST DO IT! Some of the colleges who have recently dropped the requirement of the writing portion of the tests still recommend or highly recommend submitting this score. Honestly, those schools should still simply require it.

Colleges that DON’T Require the Writing Portion

There are over 4,000 colleges in the U.S. With 19 requiring this portion of the test, that leaves nearly almost 4,000 not. Short of those applying to highly selective universities that admit under 10% of their applicants, most students can safely opt-out of the writing portion of the ACT and SAT.

The Future?

Our crystal ball says this portion of the test is nearing the end of its short life; it was originally birthed in 2005. Harvard dropped the writing portion requirement in March 2018 followed by Princeton and Stanford in July 2018. To date, we cannot find a comprehensive and accurate list of policies. CollegeBoard (SAT) attempts to keep a list, but it is frequently outdated; don’t trust the SAT site for indicating whether you should take it. Your best source for checking each school is the college’s website on the admissions page.

Prepping for the Writing Test

LEAP does offer a FREE webinar to equip students to score high on this portion of the test. The coaching webinar is offered prior to each test date. Check our homepage to register for the next free prep.